Following on from our coverage of Belgian authorities shutting down Vitae earlier this week, two arrested suspects have now been confirmed.
For more we turn to a June 24th report from De Tijd.
Of particular interest in De Tijd’s report is reference to Michael Weber;
Mainly self-made Belgians are behind Vitae, such as the creator Michael W. and the moneylenders Mendy Z. and Shrage P.
De Tijd’s report appears to confirm separate intel I received, identifying those arrested as Guy Meeuwis, Mendy Zicherman, Shrage Posen (right), Kobe Bické and Tom Lauwerysen.
Note that other than Zicherman and Posen, the other names above are unconfirmed.
Given De Tijd’s article is in Dutch, I take it “money lender” is a bad translation of “money launderer”.
Mendy Zicherman is Vitae’s Chief Commercial Officer:
And Shrage Posen is Vitae’s Chief Operating Officer:
The five arrested suspects have been charged with being members of a criminal organization, fraud and money laundering.
Other interesting tidbits revealed in De Tijd’s article include:
- Vitae was run through Vitae AG, a shell company incorporated in Switzerland through a PO Box;
- seven properties were raided on Tuesday across Antwerp, East and West Flanders and Limburg;
- Belgian authorities worked with Swiss authorities to conduct raids tied to Vitae AG;
- the Belgian investigation was kept under wraps so that Vitae’s executives and top promoters couldn’t cash out before the arrests and seizures;
- 37% of Vitae tokens have been seized;
- 1.1 million EUR has been seized;
- 1.5 million in cryptocurrency has been seized; and
- seven luxury vehicles, “a range of luxury watches” and gold has also been seized.
Belgian authorities have pegged Vitae’s victims at around 223,000. Together their losses are believed to run into the tens of millions.
Vitae’s founder and CEO Michael Weber, aka Michael Bradley, is believed to be a resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado in the US.
Weber’s last Twitter post was a retweet on June 19th. His current status and whereabouts remain unknown.
Update 24th June 2021 – Europol has revealed it was part of the coordination efforts between Belgium and Switzerland.
With the support of Europol, the Belgian Federal Judicial Police (Federale Gerechtelijke Politie, Police Judiciaire Fédérale) under the jurisdiction of the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office (Federaal Parket, Parquet Fédéral) has taken action against the alleged members of an organised crime group running a worldwide Ponzi scheme.
The members of this organised crime group are for the most part Belgian nationals who were making use of a company under Swiss jurisdiction. A number of house searches were carried out in parallel by the Swiss Federal Police (fedpol).
Europol deployed four of its experts to Belgium and Switzerland to assist the national authorities with the actions in the field.
This operation was carried out in the framework of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT).
Still no word on Weber.